I'll close it out with this one, then we will be on to other things.
It was 1987.
The Pantages Theater in Hollywood.
I had read that Mickey Rooney would be starring in a production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To the Forum".
Sounded pretty good to me.
My favorite, probably the best musical-comedy ever written, starring one of the most gifted actor-comedians who ever lived.
I felt no need to share this with anyone, so I flew solo.
It was a Wednesday night.
Got a great seat.
Eighth row, orchestra.
The lights went down.
Over the public address system, we heard "Welcome to the Forum".
I'd seen many productions of this show.
I knew it very well.
I'd never seen it start that way.
I can't really tell you why, but it seemed a little off-putting.
I let it slide.
They played the Overture, got done, and out came Mickey.
He went into the opening number, which is traditionally broken up by his narration of what we are about to see.
Right off the bat, from his first piece of narration, I began to hear lines that I had never heard before.
Throughout the show.
He seemed to give himself permission to give the show a complete rewrite.
And proceeded to improve none of it.
He turned it into dreck.
"Forum" is a very difficult show to pull off well.
It's all in the hands of the lead actor.
The character, Pseudolus, is a slave in ancient Rome.
What drives the entire action of the play is Pseudolus's desire to be free.
A very intricate plot evolves from that, and in any good production of it, you have to see the wheels turning in his head. Constantly.
It's all about his thought process.
The more you see the wheels turning, the better the show is.
With Mickey, you NEVER saw the wheels turning.
Because he didn't give a crap about wheels..
He copped an attitude, that he shared with the audience, called "Do you believe this shit I'm trapped in?"
He had no respect for the material.
For the greatest, most intelligent musical-comedy ever written.
He had no respect for it.
Which is probably why he chose to rewrite most of it.
He added a ton of new jokes that weren't in the script.
And they were all, without exception, groaners.
I know this, because I kept hearing the audience, and me, groaning.
As did Mickey.
At one point, he went down to the edge of the stage, right at the footlights, and said "Hey folks, don't blame me. I didn't write this stuff!"
At that moment, I wanted to stand up from my seat, and shout back at him "Yes you did!!"
I restrained myself.
To this day, I don't know how, but I did.
I understand that Larry Gelbart, the co-book writer on "Forum", tried to get an injunction, or at least to sue. He just wound up discouraging people to see it.
Mickey let that show die a totally pointless death.
Apparently, there was no one around him who could tell him "No".
To this day, it was more torture than I've ever chosen to sit though in an evening of theatre.
And I sat through "The Addams Family".
To sum up, with all the great work he did, that evening almost totally put him in the minus column for me.
Almost, but not quite.
He did all that great work.
For so long.
All he needed was someone to keep him in line.
So over all, he was better than he was not.
But that "Forum" experience made it awfully close.
My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at email@example.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman
Add to this, my new Kickstarter project, "Another Network". Please check it out at Kickstarter.com